“Carnival Microbial” is free to read in the latest issue of Grendelsong. It’s creepy, creepy science: a circus where the performers are all microbes. Specifically, horrible diseases: Scarlet Fever as a trapeze artist, Tetanus as a human blockhead, and so on. Sandwiched in the middle of this little prose-poetry collection is the freak show… a caravan of historical microbiologists, of deadly bacteriologists. And when Smallpox gets a little too close to Edward Jenner’s cage, the Carnival is out a ringmaster and the microbes have to go about selecting a replacement.
It’s weird biological fantasy, essentially. Now usually my biological preferences fall to plants, but I like talking about science in interesting ways, and there’s more to science than seagrass.
And talking of Jenner, here’s his excerpt. You can read the entire strange thing at the above link if you’re interested.
Edward Jenner: has a cowhide on his wall, stretched tight in four directions and with the feet cut off. The cow’s name is – was – Blossom.
has a milkmaid with poxy hands and otherwise perfect skin, who sings as she squeezes and believes all the tales her mother told her. Her name is Sarah.
has a garden, and a gardener who raises kids as well as cabbages and carnations and chances. The child’s name is James: he is eight years old, with skinned knees, and can be trusted not to make a fuss.
has a scalpel, to scrape the pus from milky hands, to open up the freckled skin with slices and supplement with smallpox. The scalpel doesn’t have a name. Tools very often don’t – or so Blossom and Sarah and Jamie would say, all innocent, as if their opinions mattered to anyone.